Wednesday, January 23, 2013

WMW: What Do You Wear to Work?

I remember when I got my first full-time job; one of the first things I did was go out and buy a work wardrobe. Actually, I got the call that I'd gotten the job while I was on a mission trip in rural Tennessee, so I went out and bought a skirt at Walmart to celebrate. But when we got back, I went to Ann Taylor LOFT and went on a spree for dressy pants, blouses, skirts, dresses, etc.

I felt cute and enjoyed dressing up for work. My boss always dressed nicely and looked very cute too, but it wasn't too long before I noticed the overall more casual attire of most people in the company. They practiced "Casual Friday," but it wasn't all that uncommon to see jeans on other days of the week too, especially on the men, for whom ties were really only worn at board meeting time.

Me, I could barely force myself to wear khakis on Fridays. I wore skirts and dresses and 3.5-inch heels all the way through my pregnancy with Kate. After becoming a mom, I couldn't handle the heels quite as well and started heading toward the more casual end of "business casual." (I was having deja vu here, and found a Working Mom Wednesday post from that stage of my work-wardrobe-timeline, titled, fittingly, "Business Casual.") But still more committed to polish than comfort.

It was right around that time that I moved into my Ministry Matters role, and I felt a little overdressed for a "web" person. People who run websites are supposed to be all hipster-like, right? Pearls seemed somewhat out of place in the digital suite, and before I knew it, I was wearing jeans on Thursdays. (gasp!)

There are two "Work Wardrobe Rules" I've tried to keep in mind over the years, both of which I probably learned from my dad, who has traditionally been my go-to person for professional advice.

From Ann Taylor
Rule #1: Dress for the job you want.

This makes sense, as it puts a person in the right mindset for the career path she is pursuing, and sends a message to others that she is serious about her work. There are times when this doesn't make sense, though. Like when I worked in a day care one summer in college and never once wore jeans, shorts, or sneakers. What was I thinking?

This rule actually provided some guidance in my "year of discernment" these past twelve months. I used to want the metaphorical "corner office." I wanted to rise up the ranks and be the "power chick" Matt jokes that I am. But as my vision shifted closer to home, my attire did as well. When I started wanting to wear jeans on a Monday, I knew something had changed in me and I joked "if you're supposed to dress for the job you want, apparently I want to be at home on my sofa!"

Fortunately, with our office being so casual anyway, this wasn't a problem. Apparently everyone wanted to be hanging out on my sofa! And this brings me to the next rule:

Rule #2: Never dress nicer than your boss.

It was actually easier to follow this rule once I relaxed my "never dress down!" standards, and I actually love the way my boss dresses. I love cardigans, and the flowier and cozier, the better.

From J.Jill

This is my favorite piece of clothing right now. (I actually have it in green, but didn't like the shirt they paired it with in that pic.) I'm wearing it right now, actually, with jeans. But I'm not sitting on my sofa. I'm at my desk, in a work-oriented environment. Which brings me to newly-discovered Rule #3.

Rule #3: When you work at home, you still get dressed.

I've heard a lot of jokes about working in my pajamas since I shifted to working from home, but that is really, truly unadvisable (and not just because a deliveryperson might come to the door!) It's about getting into a "work" frame of mind, being productive and focused. It's a signal to your brain that it's time to be "on."

Admittedly, I dress more casually than I would if I were going to the office. Leggings or jeans every day and certainly no panty hose! But I do get dressed before sitting down to work. I even put on makeup and jewelry most days, even if I know I'm not leaving the house.

What's your typical work attire? How do you feel about it?


Kim said...

Getting dressed for working at home is a HUGE rule of mine. I am much more distracted and tend to be lazier when I stay in pj's or even work clothes. The mornings I get up, take a shower, and actually look presentable are not only more productive, but I feel better, too! Thankfully I don't need to spend the money on a work wardrobe, but I do miss heels every now and then!

Lisa H said...

Wow, I can't believe you put on make up even when you're not leaving the home! You definitely take the "dress for success" to a new level!

It's funny because working in entertainment is SO different from any "normal" job. In my last job, I sometimes dressed in my Ann Taylor clothes and sometimes leggings and jeans depending on my mood...and I was the dressiest one in the office most of the time!

I hope you're still enjoying your new home-work, which it sounds like you are. Sending hugs to all of you! :)

Rachel Moss said...

I wear a lot of skirts, dress pants, and dresses as a first grade teacher. I think I prefer to wear dresses, but since they aren't very practical for pumping/nursing they have been getting pushed to the back of the closet this year.
I've worn more (and higher) heels than ever before this school year...enough that I am constantly hearing comments from parents and coworkers about how they couldn't walk around in those things all day long.
I do enjoy wearing jeans, tennis shoes, and my school shirt on Fridays, though. It's nice to have one day out of the work week that I don't have to think about what to wear!
Oh, and I would wear khakis if I could ever find a pair that fit me nicely. It seems like every pair I've ever owned looked great in the clothing store's dressing room, and then took on a new (stretched out) personality as soon as I wore them out in the real world.

Pretty as the Morning said...

I have a toddler and work in a cngregational setting and wear business clothes every day to the office because that is the tone set for professional clergy staff. However, I have found a balance for my work/home life. For example, my daughter and I leave church early on Wednesday because we come back in the evening for Bible study. I usually change into business casual to take her to the park, play and cook (you know skinny jeans, cute top, cardigan, ballet flats) and will wear that back to church in the evening.

For me, it's about wearing what makes me cofortable and confident and that's pencil skirts and dresses. Plus I always think about those poor kids on What Not to Wear where Stacy and Clinton ask them about how they feel about thier mom's pj pants at school drop off :)


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